The first heat map of red blood cells opens the door to new diagnoses

When a car’s engine consumes too much fuel, the most logical reason is usually that something is wrong and, as a result, it is limp. When the vehicle is driven, it will generate more heat than usual and, in the worst case, burn out. Something similar happens to a cell. It is a machine that performs various functions to keep the body in great shape. When you work less efficiently, you generate more heat and cause nausea. An international team has just mapped the warmth of red blood cells for the first time. This discovery opens the door to various clinical diagnoses using a simple drop of blood or cell sample.

This event, led by the Universities of Barcelona and Padua and attended by the Complutense University of Madrid and the Hospital’s Translational Biophysics Unit on October 12, was published this Friday in an influential journal. The science. “Heat is a sign of cellular health, and our discovery could open a new way to determine the health of cells and tissues in the body,” says professor and principal investigator Felix Rhetor.

“It can be assumed that cells emit heat, but this is the first time this has been discovered, which opens up a new perspective on cell biology,” explains UCM and Francisco researcher Monroy on October 12 in a conversation with , who for 14 years analyzed the physical and thermodynamic behavior of red blood cells, one of the simplest cells in the human body, but in which, despite this, they were able to determine the production of entropy.

Entropy is a physical concept related to order. “When entropy is high, it means there is a lot of disorder, and the cell organizes its interior at the expense of a disordered exterior,” Monroy explains. This researcher met Ricard at a conference several years ago. Then the call came. “He started working on this topic and came across this discovery at a time when we had the technology to study cells without touching them,” he points out. Because for many years this has been one of the main difficulties in measuring the heat of an element. When a person puts on a thermometer or measures body temperature using infrared radiation, the device itself does not change the result. But this does not happen with cells whose surface area is microns. “The very light that is looked at interferes with and radically modifies the cell, so mapping is impossible,” the researcher points out.

How did this become possible? In the early part of the second decade of the 2000s, Monroy’s lab imported and adapted a microscope camera capable of taking 200,000 images per second, allowing cellular life to be captured at that speed. “He told me that the only person who had cameras like this in Spain was Pedro Almodóvar,” he jokes. With a team and in collaboration with other researchers, this professor developed methodologies and software capable of accurately tracking movements and converting them into variable temperatures, which are mutually transformative in the field of physics.

Monroy, however, makes clear a subtlety of ordinary language that is transcendental in physics: “Heat and temperature are not the same thing. Red blood cells in the body are globally balanced at a body temperature of about 37 degrees. This does not mean that its internal part is at an angle of 37 degrees. Some parts are hotter, others less so. Between these places there is a flow of heat from a place with high temperature to a place with low temperature. This is the concept of heat, energy transit.”

Determining when these dysfunctions occur during normal cell transit could help in the clinical diagnosis of certain diseases, or at least clues that something is wrong. “In anemia, for example, if the speed is not optimized for efficiency, we see that there is disease, and if we see that the cells are doing the work with minimal heat, they will be very efficient and therefore there would be health.” This, the researchers explain, could be extrapolated to cells other than red blood cells and have applications in other metabolic diseases and cancers.

Also in therapy. “By making these heat maps in the cells of sick people, it would be possible to test several possible treatments (in the samples) and find out, outside the body, which one best restores the health of diseased cells, avoiding drugs that don’t work. or be toxic to the patient,” explains Monroy, who believes that “we are witnessing the birth of a new way of looking at cellular function in terms of heat and force.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button